An analytical investigation of aircraft handling qualities

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute


During the design of an aircraft it becomes necessary to predict the aircraft handling qualities. Previously, this has been done through the use of pilot opinion ratings of similar vehicles. However, it is desirable to develop more objective means of predicting handling qualities which also do not require the expensive flight testing or simulation necessary to obtain pilot ratings directly.

An analysis of the closed-loop pilot-airframe system is performed, utilizing the linear human-pilot transfer function in conjunction with conventional servoanalysis techniques. Boundaries are developed on aircraft frequency and damping ratio for "good" longitudinal short-period control. The lateral phugoid mode is also investigated and the conclusion reached is that this mode cannot be controlled in a manner resulting in "good" pilot ratings.

Comparison of the results obtained for the longitudinal short-period mode with experimental data indicates that the analysis is valid. Experimental data is lacking for comparison in the case of the lateral phugoid mode.